Loyola University Chicago

Office of the President


Message Sent To:All Students
Message From:Message from the Office of the President
Date Sent:Monday, August 31, 2020 02:35 PM CDT

Supporting our Black Students and Advancing Loyola’s Anti-Racism Initiative

August 31, 2020

Dear Ramblers,

This past weekend marked the poignant anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech. Myriad protests and activities occurred across the country—including near or on our campus—in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Riah Milton, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, and many others, as well as the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We are outraged and saddened by ongoing racial injustice, and we have heard and been humbled by the stories shared by Black-identified students about their experiences and aspirations.

As we enter the second week of the fall 2020 semester in the face of the ongoing global pandemic, you have received numerous communications from our institution, schools, departments, and faculty. We want to be sure to highlight the August 28 message from Jane Neufeld, Loyola University Chicago's vice president for student development, and Will Rodriguez, assistant vice president for student development and dean of students, affirming that Black lives matter. As Jane and Will make clear, our University commends and appreciates the work developed into a thoughtful proposal by a coalition of recognized student organizations led by the Black Cultural Center (BCC). We are grateful to the BCC and student organization signatories for responding to our call for action over the summer with the “In Support of Black Students” 2020 suggestions and recommendations document, and we remain committed to working with them to address the injustice of racism.

Loyola exists to nurture and prepare our students for extraordinary lives. We value each of you, as individuals and as part of the Loyola community. We are grateful that you did not just “walk away” dispirited, but rather communicated your needs and desires in a responsible and intentional manner over the course of this summer.

As we tried to convey in this past Friday’s response to you, we want to acknowledge advances on many of the suggestions you made, outline steps to engage in further discussion on other suggestions, and show tangible progress through the Anti-Racism Initiative. Now, as we resume our semester, you will hear more in the coming weeks about the foundation that has been laid and tangible actions that are forthcoming.

Building upon our earlier call to action, we continue to be confronted by additional outrages demonstrating the systemic racism in our communities and the necessity for many changes that must occur. With each successive atrocity, we witness the lives of Black Americans not being valued let alone respected. Therefore, our need to stand for anti-racism must be in our daily consciousness both for our University and broader community. It is not enough to promote inclusion and diversity; we must also work resolutely towards policy and practice changes that address systemic racism and its impact on people.

While this message will be one in a number of responses directly addressing our community’s interest in this crucial issue of our time, please know that we will continue to listen and learn, meet with representative organizations, and do what we can to respond to the suggestions made. We also realize the need to communicate more clearly since some of our existing policies are not as evident to you as they should be.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of having this work extend all across the University. Some of the suggestions made already involve departments and offices that, since June, have been working on the issues our student organizations identified. You will receive direct, more detailed responses and identified next steps from each of those areas.

Please know that we always remain open to working with recognized and elected student groups that reflect the student experience at Loyola and do so in a responsible way consistent with our Community Standards, with respect for our neighborhood communities, and in accordance with and the laws and regulations of the city of Chicago.

The work we have to do together to end racial injustice and our journey towards anti-racism in our country and world is too important. As we grieve and push forward, let us not jump to inaccurate conclusions about each other. Our vital work requires trust and collaboration, earnest dialogue, rigorous and respectful debate, and holding each other accountable. This is what will ultimately lead to change and transformation.

Yours in Loyola,

Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD

Norberto Grzywacz, PhD
Provost and Chief Academic Officer